PNCA’s MA in Critical Theory and Creative Research Awards Hannah Arendt Prize

October 24, 2012

October 24, 2012
Contact: Lisa Radon, Communications Specialist 971-255-5528
Becca Biggs, Director of Communications 971-255-5511

PNCA’s MA in Critical Theory and Creative Research Awards Hannah Arendt Prize Rob Marks Awarded $2,000 Prize for his Essay “The Site of Imaginative Contention”

PORTLAND, OR – OCTOBER 24, 2012 – The MA in Critical Theory and Creative Research Program at Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA) is pleased to announce that Rob Marks has won the Hannah Arendt Prize for his essay “The Site of Imaginative Contention,” with judges citing his direct, unblinking address of the question. The prize, in its inaugural year, carries a $2,000 cash award and is funded by the Colville Foundation and Gard Communications. The runner-up is Madeline Avram Blount for her essay on the political asymmetry of visibility and invisibility. Robert Spencer Coldren was awarded third place for his essay “Visibility,” which interrogated the prompt itself.

The competition elicited submissions from applicants hailing from 33 countries around the globe. Along with Anne-Marie Oliver and Barry Sanders, founding co-chairs of the MA in Critical Theory and Creative Research, Pacific Northwest College of Art, the distinguished judges for 2012 included: Keith Gessen, Founding Editor, n+1 Lewis Hyde, Richard L. Thomas Professor of Creative Writing, Kenyon College Atta Kim, Photographer Geoffrey Mann, Designer and Lecturer in Product Design and Digital Consultant, Gray’s School of Art, Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, Scotland W.J.T. Mitchell, Gaylord Donnelley Distinguished Service Professor of English and Art History, The University of Chicago, and Editor, Critical Inquiry Sina Najafi, Editor-in-Chief, Cabinet: A Quarterly of Art and Culture Jacques Rancière, Professor of Philosophy, The University of Paris, St. Denis (Emeritus), and Professor of Philosophy, Europäische Universität für Interdisziplinäre Studien/EGS Addressing the theme of “The Visible, the Invisible, and the Indivisible,” a number of the essayists concentrated on problems of scale and scalability, various forms of aniconicism, and attempts to escape from what was invariably presented as a strong visual bias in contemporary life and art.

Others focused on more overtly political phenomena such as the Occupy Movement, the war in Iraq, and surveillance. Still others were concerned with trying to articulate an ethics of representation—what the representation of various forms of the unthinkable should look like or whether they should be re-presented at all. A handful attempted critiques of critical theory itself. Visibility and invisibility, almost all agreed, are increasingly complex issues with wide-reaching epistemological, political, and philosophical implications.

The Hannah Arendt Prize in Critical Theory and Creative Research is an annual prize competition for those interested in the juncture of art and creative research and in the principles at the heart of the arts and humanities, including sense-based intelligence; the reality of singular, nonrepeatable phenomena; ethical vision; and consilience between inner and outer, nature and reason, thought and experience, subject and object, self and world.

The MA in Critical Theory and Creative Research (CT+CR), the first of its kind in the U.S., is an accelerated, 45-credit, seminar-based program (one year + summer intensive) that prepares students for opportunities at the intersection of art, theory, and research. Located in a major center of creative risk-taking and social experimentation, the program combines the study of critical theory as a mode of socio-political critique concerning human meaning and agency with creative research as a largely process-driven form of inquiry, forcing both theory and research in new directions within the context of a 21st-century art school. The program is devoted to people and ideas and to a rethinking of the present and future of cultural production; of arts-based research and research-based arts; of curatorial practice, documentary, and the Archive; and of social and political reconfiguration in relation to major sites of contemporary contestation. See additional information at

As Oregon’s flagship college of art and design since 1909, Pacific Northwest College of Art has helped shape Oregon’s visual arts landscape for more than a century. PNCA students study with award-winning faculty in small classes. In the last seven years, PNCA has doubled both the student body and full-time faculty, quadrupled its endowment, and added innovative undergraduate and graduate programs. PNCA offers five graduate programs—the joint Master of Fine Arts in Applied Craft and Design with Oregon College of Art and Craft, the Master of Fine Arts in Collaborative Design, the Master of Fine Arts in Visual Studies, the Low-Residency Master of Fine Arts in Visual Studies, and the Master of Arts in Critical Theory and Creative Research. These programs are part of a growing series of innovative programs of the Ford Institute for Visual Education (FIVE), whose purpose is to establish within PNCA advanced programs, exhibitions, symposia, outreach activities, and artist residencies. Through FIVE, PNCA works to establish collaborative relationships between students, international artists, and the region’s art, design and business communities and to extend the institution’s intellectual resource platforms. PNCA is now embarking on its boldest venture yet by establishing the Arlene and Harold Schnitzer Center for Art and Design as an anchor for the College’s vision of a new campus home on Portland’s North Park Blocks. Focusing on the transformative power of creativity, the capital campaign, Creativity Works Here, was launched in June 2012 with a lead gift from The Harold & Arlene Schnitzer CARE Foundation of $5 million. PNCA’s new home will be a bustling hub for creativity and entrepreneurship, reflecting the influential role of art and design in our 21st century economy – both in Portland and beyond.

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